Cancer: Nature Vs. Nurture

By Johnnay Benjamin, MPH, Director of Early Detection and Education

Did you know you have the power to help prevent cancer?

A recently-released study, receiving high profile media coverage, explores the age-old adage of nature versus nurture when it comes to cancer and cancer prevention. It reports that 66 percent of the genetic mutations that cause cancer are simple random errors in the way cells replace themselves in the body. While “random cancers” are a part of the picture, it’s important to remember that lifestyle and hereditary factors are still an important part of the equation; the American Cancer Society states that more than fifty percent of all cancer deaths can be prevented.

There are some things you can do to bridge the gap between nature and nurture. While it is known that some cancers cannot be prevented through lifestyle modifications alone, you can still reduce your risk of developing certain diseases by adopting some healthy practices:For people who may develop cancer as a result of simple random errors in cell division, early detection is still the best way to beat cancer.  For breast, skin and colorectal cancers, regular screening tests can increase the chance of finding these diseases early when treatment options and opportunities for long term survival are greater.

While we can’t always control what nature will do, we all have the power to live a healthier life today.